Chief Robert Kalamaras and the Fairfield Police Department would like to share tips on boating safety in recognition of this week’s National Safe Boating Week.
During National Safe Boating Week, which is recognized this year during the week of May 21-27, the National Weather Service partners with the National Safe Boating Council to help promote safe boating practices. This year’s theme is “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day.”
During this week, the Fairfield Police Department would like to emphasize how important it is to wear your life jacket when you’re on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s 2020 Boating Safety Statistics Report, 86% of drowning victims from recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
While out on a boat, it’s important that everyone wears a life jacket. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection offers the following guidance regarding life jackets/personal flotation devices:
- The operator or owner of any vessel being used for recreational purposes must require any child 12 years of age and under who is aboard such vessel to wear a personal flotation device while the vessel is underway unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
- All life jackets must be United States Coast Guard approved and in good serviceable condition.
- Life jackets should fit comfortably snug and keep your chin above water so you can breathe easily.
- Don’t put heavy objects on your life jacket or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender. Life jackets lose buoyancy when crushed.
- Let your life jacket drip dry thoroughly before putting it away. Always stow it in a well-ventilated place.
- Put your name on your life jacket if you’re the only wearer.
Fairfield Police would also like to share these safe boating tips with residents, courtesy the National Weather Service (NWS):
- Start each trip in your boat by going through a checklist of equipment and operation procedures, just like an airline pilot.
- When you take your family for a boat ride, tell a friend or neighbor where you are going and when you expect to return. If you change plans, let them know.
- Know the rules of the water and practice safe boating. Contact your local Coast Guard auxiliary, power squadron, or Red Cross for details about taking a boating safety course.
- Boating is safer and more fun when your boat is properly outfitted. Check with your nearest Coast Guard auxiliary for a free examination. Also check your boat’s capacity plate. It tells you how many people can safely be on board. Overloading is not only against the law, it’s dangerous.
- Before you set sail, check the forecast and keep your weather radio with you for updated reports.
- The wind can play tricks on a novice sailor in a small sailboat. The easiest way out of trouble is to let go of the main sheet. This will cock your bow into the wind almost immediately.
- The “man overboard” drill is as important on a small boat as it is on an ocean liner. Learn and practice the proper procedure for retrieving someone who has fallen overboard.
- Inspect your boat trailer thoroughly before heading to the lake or ocean. Tires, brakes, and safety chains should all be checked. Don’t be the victim of a dry land boating accident.
The department would also like to remind community members that the department’s Marine Unit and Dive Team are available to respond to any water emergency 24-hours-a-day.
If you have any boating questions feel free to stop by the Fairfield Police Marine Unit office located in the South Benson Marina or call 203-254-4866. Those interested in a boat examination or vessel safety check are encouraged to contact the Fairfield Police Marine Unit who will conduct a check free of charge.